Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton will retire at the end of the season after 17 seasons with the team, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The 40-year old Helton told Renck that he feels that is time for him to move on from baseball, and that he is looking forward to life outside of the game.
"Yes, this is it. It just seems like it's time. It's a young man's game. I am 40 years old. I am looking forward to doing something else besides baseball. Whatever that may be. I am not sure yet," Helton said. "I am going to start a new chapter not only in my life but our lives. It will be different. It will be difficult, but it will be exciting."
In 112 games on the season, Helton has hit .244 with 13 HR and 52 RBI, and has experienced a recent power surge that caused many to speculate that he would come back for his eighteenth season in Colorado. He decided against that possibility, and Rockies' fans will have the chance to show their appreciation for Helton during the team's upcoming nine-game homestand against the Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Red Sox.
After being selected by the Rockies with the eighth overall pick in the 1995 draft, Helton spent two and a half years in the team's minor league system before making his major league debut on August 2, 1997. He appeared in 35 games for the Rockies that season before becoming the team's starting first baseman in 1998 and posting a .315 average with 25 HR and 97 RBI on his way to finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Since breaking into the majors, Helton is the owner of a lifetime .317 average with 316 HR and 1397 RBI, and has been elected as a National League All-Star in five seasons (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004). His best season came in 2000, when he finished fifth in MVP voting after posting a .372 average with 42 home runs, and a league-leading 147 RBI and 216 hits. He was the recipient of four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves throughout his career, and helped the Rockies reach their only World Series in 2007 while serving as the face of the franchise and unofficial captain throughout his tenure with the team.
Although Helton is widely considered as one of the most underrated players in baseball history, many hope that his career statistics will help him reach the Hall of Fame when his eligibility begins in 2018. According to BaseballReference.com, the three most comparable hitters to Helton are Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, who are all borderline Hall of Famers who have been the subject of debate in recent years. Out of Helton's ten most comparable players, two (Orlando Cepeda and Johnny Mize) are Hall of Famers and two have not yet been eligible for voting (Albert Pujols and Vladimir Guerrero).